Unexplored-tourism-destinations-of-India

aditya.n

Unexplored-tourism-destinations-of-India

Knowledge Partner

Unexplored

tourism destinations

of India


Knowledge Partner

Unexplored

tourism destinations

of India


Statement of limiting conditions

The inferences/analyses made by EY and FICCI in this report are

based on information collated through limited primary

research, secondary research and our knowledge of the

industry. We have taken due care to validate the authenticity

and correctness of the information from various sources, but

no representations or warranty, expressed or implied, is given

by EY or FICCI any of its respective partners, officers,

employees or agents as to the accuracy or completeness of the

information, data or opinions provided to us by third parties or

secondary sources.

Nothing contained herein, to the contrary and in no event

shall EY or FICCI be liable for any loss of profit or revenues and

any direct, incidental or consequential damages incurred by

the client or any other reader of this report.


Table of Contents

Executive summary................................................................................01

1. Unexplored tourism destinations in India ..........................................09

1.1 Auroville (Tamil Nadu) ...............................................................10

1.2 Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh) ......................................................11

1.3 Desert camps of Rajasthan (Rajasthan) .........................................13

1.4 Diu (Daman & Diu) ....................................................................14

1.5 Dudhwa National Park (Uttar Pradesh) ..........................................16

1.6 Elephanta Caves (Maharashtra) ...................................................17

1.7 Hampi (Karnataka) ...................................................................19

1.8 Lahaul and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh) ............................................20

1.9 Majuli Island (Assam) ................................................................22

1.10 Great Rann of Kutch (Gujarat) .....................................................24

1.11 Sundarbans Delta (West Bengal)..................................................25

1.12 Gurez/Gurais (Jammu and Kashmir) .............................................26

2 Conclusion .....................................................................................29


Executive Summary


Executive Summary

The Indian tourism and hospitality industry has emerged as the largest service

sector in India. Although the countryis the seventh-largest in the world in

terms of its geographical area, it is unparalleled in its beauty, uniqueness,

culture and history, which make it a top tourist destination.

Tourist inflow into India

grew at 7% year-on-year

from 2010 to 2014.

th

India sees the 11 largest tourist inflow in the

nd

Asia-Pacific region and the 42 worldwide,

according to India Tourism Statistics 2013. Its

tourism industry is flourishing due to an

increase in foreign tourist arrivals and a larger

number of Indians travelling to domestic destinations. Tourist inflow into the

country grew at 7% annually from 2010 to 2014. In 2013, India had 6.97 million

registered foreign tourist arrivals — 0.64% of the total foreign tourist traffic in

the world.

In 2014, the tourism sector contributed INR7.64 trillion to the GDP and

provided employment to 36.7 million people. By the end of 2015, these

numbers are expected to increase to INR8.22 trillion and 37.4 million

respectively. This would mean that tourism will account for 7% of India's GDP in

2015. In 2014, travel and tourism investments in India accounted for INR2.11

trillion or 6.2% of the total investments – which is expected to rise by 9.3% in

1

2015.

1

“Travel and tourism industry to grow 7.5% in 2015: report”, Live Mint,

http://www.livemint.com/Politics/h3ejs6Bz6NJ0BOW86ar1VL/Travel-and-tourism-industry-to-grow-75-in-2015-

report.html, accessed 24 March 2015

02 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Figure 1: Foreign tourist arrivals and domestic tourist visits in India

8.0

6.0

4.0

3.90

4.40

5.10 5.20 5.10

5.70

6.30 6.50

7.00

7.46

2.0

0.0

0.39 0.46 0.53 0.56 0.67 0.75 0.86 1.05 1.15

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

Foreign tourist arrivals (in million) Domestic tourist visits to all states and UTs (in billion)

Data for 'Domestic Tourist visits' was not available for the year 2014

Source: “India Tourism Statistics 2013 at a glance”, Ministry of Tourism, India

While the Government has been mainly focusing on more famous tourist

destinations such as those in Rajasthan, Kerala and Gujarat; there are many

other unique destinations with significant tourism potential, which, if

developed and positioned intelligently, can add to the growth of the tourism

sector in India.

Figure 2: Growth Rate of foreign tourist arrivals and domestic tourist visits in India

0.25

0.2

0.15

0.1

0.05

0

-0.05

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

Growth rate (foreign tourists)

Data for 'Domestic Tourist visits' was not available for the year 2014

Growth rate (domestic tourists)

Source: “India Tourism Statistics 2013 at a glance”, Ministry of Tourism, India

With the Central Government realizing the importance of tourism in India's

economic development by according it priority sector status in the Twelfth Five

Year Plan, the tourism sector is set to grow rapidly in coming years. The

Government has also taken several steps to promote tourism, e.g., by

introducing visa-on-arrival schemes for as many as 43 countries, increasing the

Budget outlay for the Ministry of Tourism by 33% in 2015 and mulling expansion

of the scope of the Leave Travel Allowance/Leave Travel Concession (LTA/LTC) to

hotels and other expenses. This year's Budget also found special mention of

heritage sites such as Hampi,the Elephanta Caves and the Varanasi temple

town, among others, to focus on their development.

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 03


Some unexplored tourism destinations have been exploredas part of FICCI's

focus on the growth of India's tourism sector, and upcoming themes and

projects across the country to attract tourists. This report provides information

in a nutshell on each of these destinations, focusing on their main attractions,

their connectivity and availability of accomodation facilities in them. Some

destinations as mentioned in the current year's budget have been picked up as

well. While most of the destinations are selected basedon industry interactions

and trends.

Diverse destinations have been covered, ranging from the Majuli Islands — the

largest river islands in the Indian sub-continent — to Auroville – a spiritual

center near Pondicherry and the desert camps of Rajasthan. A snapshot of the

12chosen destinations with each of their main attractions is presented below:

Destination State Category Main attraction

Auroville Tamil Nadu Wildlife/Spiritual Spiritual center at the heart of the

city

Surrounding greenbelt providing

ample opportunity for

development of wildlife tourism

Chitrakoot Madhya Pradesh Religious Spiritual legacy of town dating

back to the period of the

Ramayana – purported to be home

to Lord Ram for a large part of his

14-year exile

Desert camps

in Rajasthan

Rajasthan Adventure/Nature Fully equipped tent

accommodation in the desert with

toilet facilities, electricity and

food

Camel safaris over sand dunes

Diu Daman & Diu Adventure/Nature

/ Heritage

Dudhwa

National Park

Uttar Pradesh

Nature/Adventure

/ Wildlife

Unique mix of heritage including

forts, museums and caves with

beautiful beaches.

Home to animals such as the tiger,

the swamp deer – Barasingha, the

one-horned rhinoceros — and

various other animals including

almost 400 species of resident and

migratory birds

04 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Destination State Category Main attraction

Elephanta

Caves

Hampi

Lahaul and

Spiti

Maharashtra

Karnataka

Jammu &

Kashmir

Heritage

Heritage

Adventure/Nature

/ Religious

A United Nations Educational,

Scientific and Cultural

Organization (UNESCO) World

Heritage Site since 1987 with

beautiful rock-cut caves with stone

carvings of Hindu gods and

goddesses

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

since 1986 with remains dating

th

back to the 7 century.

Beautiful scenery and Buddhist

monasteries the major tourist

attraction of the district

Adventure activities such as skiing,

yak safaris and trekking popular

Majuli Island

Great Rann

of Kutch

Sundarbans

Delta

Assam

Nature/Wildlife/

Religious

One of the largest river islands in

the world; home to many different

types of plants and animals.

Also houses 36 monasteries (as of

April 2013) known as satras

Gujarat Adventure/Nature Largest salt desert in the world

Rann Utsav – annual winter festival

with music and dance programs,

cultural shows, camel safaris, food

festivals, etc.

West Bengal Nature/Wildlife Largest single block of tidal

2

halophytic mangrove forest in the

world

Sundarbans National Park is a

national park, a tiger reserve and a

biosphere reserve

Gurez

Jammu and

Kashmir

Nature/Adventure

Famous for its natural beauty,

being located in a valley

surrounded by snowcapped

mountains

Has historical significance and fell

along a section of the ancient Silk

Route

Culture and language of the native

tribe is different from that of the

rest of the Kashmir

2

Halophyte - A halophyte is a plant that grows in waters of high salinity, coming into contact with saline water through its

roots or by salt spray, such as in saline semi-deserts, mangrove swamps, marshes and sloughs, and seashores.

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 05


A study of these locations indicates that they have huge untapped potential as

tourist destinations, which can be harnessed to promote tourism in them. The

Central Government has taken a step in this direction by launching the Heritage

City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY). Various state

governments have also taken different steps and implemented policy measures

to promote tourism in their states.

Tourism policy:

One of the basic initiatives is to have a dedicated state tourism policy

which outlines how the states would like to project themselves. The

policy also includes focus areas of the government, specific

inter ventions proposed/planned, new/existing incentives to

developers/private players and vision for development of tourism in the

state, among others.

Brand ambassadors:

Some states such as Gujarat (Amitabh Bachchan) and West Bengal (Shah

Rukh Khan) have involved leading Bollywood stars as brand ambassadors

for the states, to promote the tourist destinations in the states. Another

initiative undertaken by the Government of Diu was to project Diu as the

‘Isle of Calm’. The government had engaged a large advertising agency –

Ogilvy & Mather for designing and conducting this campaign.

Social media:

To promote any destination as a tourist destination, it is important to

provide accurate information which is easily accessible through various

media. Thus, having a good website which includes information

regarding tourist attractions, connectivity, best time to travel, tourist

facilities and accommodation becomes imperative for promoting any

destination. While some of these locations have good websites such as

Hampi, Diu and Great Rann of Kutch (Rann Utsav), many locations do not

have functional sites/have outdated sites. For instance, Chitrakoot does

not have a detailed website promoting itself as a tourist destination.

The key policy interventions and initiatives proposed by FICCI and EY for these

destinations are as follows:

Organization of marquee events/ festivals

A theme-based event such as a global race, trek or excursion can be organized

at these locations. For instance, a camel race on the lines of the Boat Race

06 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Festival can be held in the Rann of Kutch as well as in the Deserts of Rajasthan.

These should be global events held over several days to attract tourists.

Development of theme-based activities

While natural beauty and heritage buildings attract tourists, what makes them

stay for a longer period are options of diverse activities. Therefore, based on the

nature of each location, sporting activities could be promoted. For instance, a

good mix of water sports could turn Diu (as also Goa) into a destination that is

sought after by younger tourists.

Provision of basic tourist facilities

Some of these locations lack basic tourist facilities such as security, guided

tours, clean and accessible toilets and easy access for differently abled persons.

This needs to be addressed on a priority basis.

Preservation of heritage and nature

Some of these locations are also in urgent need of preservation. It is therefore

important that tourism is promoted in an ecologically sensitive manner and

revenues from it are used to preserve monuments or the ecology. For instance,

preservation of the Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra and the ruins in Hampi

should be an ongoing process to ensure that they remain as close to their

original state as possible. Rapid erosion of Majuli Island in Assam is a problem

that can have consequences as dire as the entire island being wiped out and

thus needs immediate attention.

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 07


1. Unexplored tourism destinations in India


1. Unexplored tourism destinations in India

3

1.1 Auroville (Tamil Nadu)

Background: Auroville, also known as the City of

Dawn, is located in the Viluppuram district in Tamil

Nadu. It was conceptualized as an ideal township

dedicated to the unity of humanity and was

founded by Mirra Alfassa in 1968 as a project of the

Sri Aurobindo society. Aurovillewas also declared a

project of importance by the United Nations

Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

(UNESCO) in 1966.

Main attraction: Located around 10 km north of

Pondicherry, the town has a population of 2,400

people from around 49 countries — of all age

groups and social backgrounds, representing

human diversity. The center of the town or Peace

Area is the location of the Matrimandir, a domed amphitheater with the Urn of Human

Unity containing soil from 121 countries and 23 India states. Covered with 56kg of gold,

the center of the dome holds a crystal ball that glows with a single ray of sunlight,

representing in the words of Alfassa,“a symbol of future realization.” Matrimandir is also

equipped with a solar power plant and surrounded by a lake, which acts as a groundwater

recharge area.

There are four planned zones in the city — the Residential Zone, providing a habitat of

balanced living for individuals and the collective; the Industrial Zone with small- and

medium-scale industries to help it achieve self-sufficiency; the Cultural Zone, which is to

be a site for educational, sports and cultural facilities, and International Zone, which will

demonstrate the contribution of various countries to diversity. Agreen belt lies is

envisaged, which will surround the city as a zone for farms, forestry and wildlife habitats.

3

“Auroville – The City of Dawn”, Official Website, http://www.auroville.org/, accessed 22 March 2015.

10 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Connectivity: Auroville is located around 150 km south of Chennai and 10 km north of

Pondicherry town. It can be easily reached by the East Coast Road connecting Chennai and

Pondicherry. The town is around a three-hour taxi journey away from Chennai. Moreover,

one can take a Chennai-Pondicherry bypass bus to the Pondicherry bus station, and a taxi

or auto rickshaw onwards to Auroville. The nearest airport is the Chennai International

Airport and the nearest railway station the Chennai Central Railway Station.

Getting around: A visit to the Visitors’ Centre provides information on activities in the

town through videos and brochures. There are boutiques selling products manufactured at

Auroville, restaurants, cycle rentals, etc. The Mantrimandir is a 15-minute walk from the

Centre. Guided tours are also available.

Accommodation: Guest houses, maintained as Auroville units, offer simple options,

depending on space and budgets. Home stays are another accommodation option. These

can be booked through the Auroville Guest Accommodation Service located at the Visitor’s

Centre or online.

Recommendations: The town is not designed with a specific goal to attract tourists, and

the following would help it build its potential as a tourist destination:

Accommodation options for tourists looking for a more luxurious stay while

enjoying the peace and serenity of the town

Restaurants serving multi-cultural cuisine

Involvement of tourists in city’s activities in the areas of education, culture and

art,and green practices

Nature tours in the Green Belt, which can be conducted by locals

Eco-friendly conveyance within the city and to nearby areas to maintain the

environmental balance

4

1.2 Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh)

Background: Chitrakoot is a town and Nagar Panchayatlocated in the Satna district in

Madhya Pradesh. It borders the Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh and lies in the

Chitrakoot region, which has significant historical and religious significance. The region is

known for its many temples and sites (mentioned in the Hindu scriptures).

4

“Chitrakoot – Official District Website”, http://chitrakoot.nic.in/, accessed 23 March 2015.

“Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh”, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitrakoot,_Madhya_Pradesh, accessed 23

March 2015.

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 11


Main attraction: The town’s spiritual legacy

dates back to the period of the Ramayana.

According to the Ramayana, lord Ram, along

with his brother and wife, stayed in

Chitrakoot for a large part of his 14-year exile

from his kingdom. Chitrakoot’s top tourist

attractions include Ram Ghat on the bank of

the Mandakini river, the Gupt Godavari Caves,

the Hanuman Dhara temple, the Bharat Milap

temple and the Kamadgiri temple, among

others. The Sati Anasuya Ashrama, located 16 km from the town, is another tourist

attraction and finds special mention in the Ramayana. Several fairs and festivals are

organized in the region, such as the Ramayana Mela, and people gather there every year on

Diwali, Makar Sankranti and Ramanavami.

Connectivity: Chitrakoot is closest to the

Allahabad airport, which is located 116 km it.

The Chitrakoot Dham (Karwi) railway station

in Uttar Pradesh is situated 10 km from

Chitrakoot. The townis connected through a 5

km approach road to National Highway 76.

Accommodation: Accommodation facilities

available in the town are limited and include

basic hotels. The Madhya Pradesh Tourism

Development Corporation (MPTDC) has two properties, which have air-conditioned rooms.

Recommendations: The Chitrakoot region, which is spreadover both Uttar Pradesh and

Madhya Pradesh, has significant religious and cultural importance. The region’s appeal as

a tourist destination could be developed by implementation of the following initiatives:

Smart toilets with bio-digester facilities at all temples and hotels to maintain the

green environment

Eco-friendly conveyance for tourists to travel from the town to nearby attractions

Specialized heritage tours with knowledgeable guides to answer tourist’squeries

(Local people can also conduct such tours.)

Luxury hotels and cottages near or in the town

Theme-based restaurants serving authentic local cuisine

12 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Tourist support services such as signage and interpretation centers, parking

facilities and easy access provided for differently abled persons

1.3 Desert camps of Rajasthan (Rajasthan)

Background: Rajasthan, the state famous for

its alluring Thar Desert, attracts a large

number of tourists to its desert camps.

Three cities in Rajasthan — Jaisalmer,

Jodhpur and Bikaner — have large stretches

of desert. All three have various desert camps

arranged by different hospitality players. In

5

Jaisalmer , the camps are arranged at the

Sam sand dunes, in Jodhpur, at the Osian

sand dunes and in Bikaner at the Katriyasar

6

sand dunes near Raiser village . These are the

7

chosen ones for desert camping .

Main attraction: The desert camps offer a variety of activities to keep tourists busy. Most

of themoffer fully equipped tented accommodation with food and toilet facilities, and

electricity. The tents are elegantly built with center rooms, verandahs, toilets with all

modern facilities including 24-hour running water.

The single night stay package includes a traditional welcome with refreshments, exclusive

deluxe camel safaris, desert jeep safaris, folk music and dances at night, camp fires, dinner

and breakfast the next morning.

The base camps are generally located 3 to 5 km away from the dunes. Safaris and excursion

trips take place at the center of the sand dunes. If a stay extends beyond a day, camel

safaris are offered inside villages, giving tourists a glimpse into Rajasthani culture.

Connectivity: Jodhpur seems to be the central location for tourists visiting Bikaner and

Jaisalmer. The Osian sand dunes are at a distance of 60 km from Jodhpur. Jaisalmer is

located 300 km from Jodhpur airport and Bikaner is located at a distance of 304 km from it.

Both Jaisalmer and Bikaner have rail connectivity with the Palace on Wheels,which stops at

the junctions. Volvo and deluxe buses also ply on NH-15 to Jaisalmer, and NH 11, 15 and 89

link Bikaner with other major Indian cities.

5

“Jaisalmer Desert”, http://www.desertsafarijaisalmer.com/, accessed 13 March 2015.

6

“Raisar Camps”, http://raisarcamp.com/, accessed 13 March 2015.

7

“Osian Dunes”, http://www.osianresortcamps.com/, accessed 13 March 2015

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 13


Accommodation: There are accommodation

facilities at the camping sites, but most of the

camps only have basic amenities. Moreover,

since the camps are at a distance from urban

areas, food is often stored and limited in

quantity. However, most of these desert camp

providers offer accommodation that is clean

8

and equipped with all necessities .

Recommendations: Keeping in view the

region’s colorful culture, its desert areas still have huge potential in the areas of adventure

sports and camping, which need to be developed further. Some of the potential areas are

as follows:

Smart toilets with bio-digester facilities at all the camps to maintain the green

environment

Special desert tours for enthusiasts who want to know about the culture and

history of the region (Local people can also conduct such tours, since they can

present the best picture of their rich history, art and culture.)

Special luxury camps with all amenities

Adventure sports such as para sailing and desert skiing, which are yet to be

explored in the camps

1.4 Diu (Daman & Diu)

Background: Diu, part of the union territory

of Daman and Diu, is situated off the

southern coast of Gujarat. It was a

Portuguese colony, which was taken over by

India in 1961. It mainly includes Diu Island

and two small areas. The northern part of the

island is marshy and the southern part has

cliffs and sandy beaches.

8

“User Reviews”, Tripadvisor website, http://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g297668-d3174501-Reviews-

The_Osian_Sand_Dunes_Resort_Camp-Jodhpur_Rajasthan.html, accessed 24 March 2015.

9

“Visit Diu”, Diu Tourism Website, http://visitdiu.in/, accessed 22 March 2015.

“Gujarat Tourism”, http://www.gujarat-tourism.net/, accessed 22 March 2015.

“Diu Administration Website”, http://diu.gov.in/index.php, accessed 22 March 2015.

14 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


9

Main attraction : Diu Island, also known as the Island of Calm or Ilha de Calma, is rich in

Portuguese history, with churches and forts.Its main attractions include:

Diu Fort: Built in 1535 and overlooking the Arabian Sea, the fort is a massive

structure with a double moat and a lighthouse, which is the highest point of Diu.

One can view cannons, small chapels and engraved tombstone fragments at the

fort. The island’s jail is also located here.

Fortress of Panikota: Reachable by canoe or motor launch, this is a stone structure

built in the sea with a lighthouse and a chapel.

Diu Museum, converted from St. Thomas Church, has antique carvings, statues and

other artefacts.

St. Paul’s Church, one of the most elaborate Portuguese churches in India, was

built in 1610 and has barn and shell-like motifs.

Beaches: Ghogla, Nagoa and Gomtimata are two of the popular beaches and offer

water sports facilities to tourists.

Naida Caves: Located outside of the town’s walls, the caves have a network of hewn

hollows and steps.

Other attractions include the Gangeshwar Temple, the Jallandhar Shrine, the Shell Museum

and Vanakbara (a small fishing village). The Diu Festival is celebrated every year in

December when craftsmen and performers showcase their culture and talent.

Connectivity: Diu Airport is the nearest to Diu and the nearest railway junction is Veraval,

which is 90 km from the town. The nearest railway station is Delwada, which is 8 km away

on a meter-gauge line. State and private buses are also available.

Accommodation: There are a wide variety of hotels in different ranges for tourists to

choose from. The options include budget, mid-range as well as luxury hotels and guest

houses. Hotels are mainly located in Diu town and near beaches.

Recommendations: In order to realize Diu’s full potential as a preferred tourist

destination, there are some areas that can be developed further. For example:

Better maintenance of beaches with an enhanced focus on cleanliness and

facilities such as restrooms

Maintenance of Diu Fort to ensure its preservation and restoration of damage

caused by erosion by the sea

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 15


Training of local guides to be well-informed and promotion of the history of the

landmarks

Improved connectivity with the town by frequent trains and buses

Development of public transport to ease tourists’ trips around the island

Development and promotion of water sport facilities at the lesser known beaches

1.5 Dudhwa National Park (Uttar Pradesh)

Background: The Dudhwa National Park was

established in 1977 in the sub-Himalayan

region known as the Terai belt. It lies

between India and Nepal in the Lakhimpur-

Kheri district in Uttar Pradesh and has buffer

of reserved forest areas on the northern and

southern areas. The southern boundary of the

park is marked by the River Suheli and the

northern edge lies along the Indo-Nepal

border.

Main attraction: Spread across 680 sq. km.,

Dudhwa houses the most endangered

ecosystems on the planet. These include Sal

forests, grasslands and swamps. Apart from being home to a sizeable number of tigers, it is

the last refuge of critically endangered sub-species of the swamp deer known as the

Barasingha. The great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, crocodiles and garuda are the other

main attractions at the park. Other animals to be seen include the Sambar deer, barking

deer, spotted deer, hog deer, sloth bears, ratels, jackals, civets, jungle cats, fishing cats

and leapords. The wetlands of Dudhwa are home to around 400 species of resident and

migratory birds that come from far-off lands. Some of the birds found here include the

Swamp Francolin, the Great Slaty Woodpecker, the Bengal Florican, the Painted Stork and

the Sarus Crane.

Connectivity: Dudhwa National Park can be reached from Lucknow by the National Highway

24 and the Katerniaghat Wildlife sanctuary by the National Highway 28C (through

Bahraich) and the State Highway 730 through Lakhimpur. The nearest airport is Lucknow

airport at a distance of 250 km and the nearest railway station connecting Dudhwa to Delhi

is at Shahjehanpur (110 km).

16 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Accommodation: There are accommodation facilities at the national parks, but these are

basic and offer inadequate amenities. There are around 50 rooms available in various types

of hotels, rest houses and thuru huts near the Park.

Recommendations: Keeping in view the rich biodiversity in the region, the reserve still has

huge potential in the areas of wildlife and eco-tourism, which need to be developed

further. Some of the potential areas are as follows:

Medical facilities (nearest hospital being 90 km away)

Smart toilets with bio-digester facilities at all the lodges and hotels to maintain

the green environment

Eco-friendly conveyance at the Park to commute from and to the nearest city

Movie-shooting and screening in protected area, especially by researchers for

private screening (for extra charges)

Wildlife specialist tours for wildlife enthusiasts who want knowledgeable guides to

answer their queries (Local people can also conduct such tours, since they can be

knowledgeable about matters pertaining to the forest.)

Adventure sports such as river safaris and mountaineering, which would add to

the reserve’s attractiveness, as well as camping and bonfire arrangements near

river banks (to attract tourists)

Special luxury cottages in close proximity with nature

1.6 Elephanta Caves (Maharashtra)

Background: The Elephanta Caves are a

network of sculpted caves located on

Elephanta Island, also known as Gharapuri.

The Island lies 10 km to the east of Mumbai.

Two groups of caves make up the Elephanta

Caves — a large group of five Hindu caves and

a smaller group of two Buddhist caves.

Main attraction: The caves were designated

as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

They have been carved out of a single solid basalt rock, which represents Mount Kailash,

the residence of Lord Shiv. The caves have beautiful stone carvings of Hindu gods and

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 17


goddesses. There are sculptures of Parvati, Ravana and Lord Shiva (which shows his three

forms as the creator, destroyer and the preserver).These statues are the main attraction of

the caves and are of religious importance to some tourists. There are many other

sculptures, including of Ravana holding up Mount Kailash, Shiv and Parvati on Kailash

Mountain, Ardhanarishwar, and the weddings of Shiva, Natraja and Kartikeya. On the

eastern part of the island is the Stupa Hill where the Buddhist caves are located. One of

10

these caves has a stupamade in brick, while the other is incomplete .

Another attraction is Cannon Hill located at the top of the island. It was used to safeguard

Bombay harbor during the colonial era. The caves are also the site of the annual Elephanta

Festival,which is organized by the Tourism Department of Maharashtra in February every

year. During World Heritage Day on 18 April and World Heritage Week between 19 and 25

November, there are special events held at the caves. In addition, there isa mini toy train

for tourists who wish to avoid walking through the caves.

Connectivity: The Elephanta Caves can be reached by ferry from the Gateway of India,

Mumbai. The nearest airport is the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (at Mumbai),

which is 20 km from the Gateway of India and the nearest railway station is at Mumbai at a

11

distance of 12 km from the caves .

Accommodation: There is no place to stay on the island, but there are good hotels at

Mumbai. However, there are many restaurants at the foothill and some at the top. While

coming down, there are some eating places(and generally the restaurants serve Indian

food).

Recommendations: The region is rich in its heritage, architecture and religious relevance.

Some potential areas that could be focused on include:

Medical facilities on the island (including first aid)

Smart toilets with bio- digester (non- networked standalone) at strategic

locations across the island

Improved power supply, basic and recreational facilities, and security

arrangements

Proper maintenance of the island, including cleanliness in and around the caves

10

“Elephanta Caves,” Wikipedia website, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephanta_Caves, accessed 13 March 2015.

11

“Maharashtra Tourism”

http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in/mtdc/HTML/MaharashtraTourism/TouristDelight/Caves/Caves.aspx?strpage

=ElephantaCaves.html, accessed 23 March 2015.

18 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Enhanced connectivity by high-speed boats to cut down the number of hours taken

12

to reach the caves

1.7 Hampi (Karnataka)

Background: Hampi is a village in northern

Karnataka, located in the ruins of the ancient

city of Vijayanagara. The village is an

important place of religious and architectural

significance. It is situated 13 km from the

town of Hospet(also known as Hosapete) and

is on the southern bank of the river

Tungabhadra. The principal industries in the

village include agriculture, support of the

Virupaksha temple and tourism.

Main attraction: The ruins at Hampi have

been a UNESCO World Heritage Site — one of

the 32 designated sites across India — since

1986. Hampi is spread over an area of 26 sq.

km. and is reportedly enclosed by seven lines

of protection . The most famous tourist site

and center of pilgrimage in the village is the

Virupaksha Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and its history can be traced back to

as far back as the 7th century. The other famous temples in the village include the Vittala

Temple, the Krishna Temple, the Hazara Rama Temple and the Chandramauleshwara

Temple. The temples at Hampi are known for their large dimensions, ornate ornamentation,

bold and delicate carvings, stately pillars, magnificent pavilions and a wealth of

iconographic and traditional depictions including subjects from the Ramayana and the

Mahabharata. Other important buildings, which form part of the Group of Monuments in

World Heritage Sites, includes civil buildings — aqueducts and canals, archaeological

museums, etc., and military buildings such as the king’s palace.

Connectivity: The closest railway station to Hampi is at Hospet, which is the major town in

the area. Hospet also has a bus station,which connects it to towns including Hyderabad,

Goaand Bengaluru . Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka, is situated 350 km from Hampi

and is connected to itby the National Highways 4 and 13, and State Highway 49. The

nearest (domestic) airport is Bengaluru Airport.

12

“Elephanta Caves could get helipad, power thanks to Jaitley's largesse in Budget 2015”, Firstpost,

http://www.firstpost.com/mumbai/elephanta-caves-get-helipad-power-thanks-jaitleys-largesse-budget-2015-

2130791.html, accessed 23 March 2015.

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 19


Accommodation: Hampi does not offer

luxurious accommodation, although many

villagers rent out parts of their houses (one

or two rooms) to tour ists. The only

government-run accommodation, along with

another cluster of guest-houses, is at

Kamalapura, situated 3 km. from Hampi.

Virupapur Gadde, situated on the other side

of the Tungabhadra, is where the third cluster

of guest-houses is located. The river can be

crossed by a coracle — a small lightweight boat. Hospet offers more upmarket hotels

including those of large hotel chains such as the Hyatt and Royal Orchid.

Recommendations: The region is immensely rich in heritage, architecture and religious

relevance, and has huge untapped potential. Some areas that could be focused on include:

Medical facilities

Smart toilets with bio-digester facilities (non-networked standalone) in strategic

locations in the ruins

Eco-friendly conveyance to and from Hospet — including state/privately run

bicycle rental services

Specialist heritage tours of the major buildings

Joint tours and activities at the Tungabhadra Dam to promote tourism in both the

locations and cross-leverage their attractions

Tourist support services such as signage and interpretation centers, parking

facilities and easy access for differently abled persons

15

1.8 Lahaul and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh)

Background: Lahaul and Spiti is a district in Himachal Pradesh, which was formed in 1960

after merging of the two separate districts of Lahaul and Spiti. The Kunzum la or the

Kunzum Pass, situated at a height of 4,590 meters, connects Lahaul to the Spiti valley. The

administrative center of the district is Keylong in Lahaul.

15

“Lahaul and Spiti”, Official Website, http://hplahaulspiti.nic.in/, accessed 23 March 2015

“Lahaul, India. Lonely Planet,http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/himachal-pradesh/lahaul-and-spiti, accessed 24

March 2015

20 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Main attraction: The beautiful scenery and

Buddhist monasteries are the major tourist

attractionsin the district. However, uncertain

weather conditions in the district means that

it can only be visited between the months of

June to October. The places to visit in and

around Lahaul are the Pattan Valley, the

Kunzum Pass and the Rohtang Pass. The

famous Buddhist monasteries include the Key

Monastery (a research and training center for

Buddhists in India), the Tabo Monastery and

the Dhankar Gompa. Villages such as Khibber

and Lanza are largely untouched by

commercial operations and offer a serene and

calm environment to tourists.

Adventure activities are another tourist attraction in the district. Skiing is a popular

adventure sport in Spiti as is the Yak safari. The area is also considered a paradise for

trekkers,since it offers many challenging and beautiful treks. Some of the popular ones

include Kaza-Langza-Hikim-Komic-Kaza, Kaza-Ki-Kibber-Gete-Kaza, Kaza-Losar-Kunzum La

and Kaza-Tabo-Sumdo-Nako.

Connectivity: The district is connected to Manali through the Rohtang Pass. Theclosest

airport is the Kullu Manali airport located 160km south of Keylong. The journey takes

around six hours by road through the Rohtang Pass from the airport. The closest railway

station is in Shimla (340km), which can be reached via Manali.

Accommodation: There are a limited number of hotels in Lahaul and Spiti, although they

range from budget to mid-luxury hotels. There are also a few Bed & Breakfast places in

Keylong, which offer basic amenities to tourists. Other options include home stays, which

are facilitated by some online travel agents.

Recommendations: The district of Lahaul

and Spiti derives its beauty from the fact that

it still remains untouched from commercial

tourism. Therefore, it is important that

ecotourism is promoted in the area to ensure

that its beauty is publicized without

commercializing it. The following are some

suggestions for achieving this:

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 21


Smart toilets with bio-digester facilities at all the monasteries to maintain the

green environment

Movie-shooting and screening in a protected area, especially by researchers, and

private screening for extra charges

Heritage tours with knowledgeable guides to answer queries (Local people can

also conduct such tours.)

Environment-friendly luxury hotels and cottages near or in town

Area promoted as a skiing destination by organizing skiing festivals/competitions

Tourist support services such as signage and interpretation centers, parking

facilities and easy access for differently abled persons

1.9 Majuli Island (Assam)

Background: Majuli is the largest

r i v e r i s l a n d i n t h e I n d i a n

subcontinent. It is located in the

river Brahmaputra in Assam. The

island is surrounded by the

Brahmaputra river in the south

and Kherkutia Xuti, a branch of the

Brahmaputra, which is joined by

the Subansiri River in the north. It

was formed due to the river

Brahmaputra and its tributaries changing their course. Majuli is known for its Assamese

neo-Vaisnavite culture.

Main attraction: The island’s main tourist

attraction is its natural beauty, since it is

located in the middle of the rivers. It is home

to many different kinds of plants and animals.

It also hosts many birds such as the Siberian

Crane, the Greater Adjutant Stork, the Pelican

and the Whistling Teal. Its culture and

heritage, including handlooms and the

colorful culture of the tribes, is another

attraction. Majuli has been a center of

22 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Vaishnavism (a branch of Hinduism centering on Krishna and Vishnu) from the 15th

century. It also houses 36 monasteries (as of April 2013) known as satras. In addition, it is

famous forthePaal Namm festival at the end of winter.

Erosion: Over the last few decades, the island has been suffering due to erosion by the

Brahmaputra. This has intensified with the regular seasonal flooding of the island.

According to a 2004 study, It had eroded to 163 sq. km. in 2001 from 290 sq. km. in 1917.

The Union Government has sanctioned INR250 crore to protect it.

Connectivity: Majuli is located 20 km. from Jorhat, which is accessible to Majuli by ferry

services. The island is around 200 km. from Guwahati — the capital of Assam.

Accommodation: Due to obvious reasons, there are no accommodation facilities at the

island. However, hotels of different standards can be found in Jorhat and closer to the

mainland.

Recommendations: The region is immensely rich in culture, natural beauty and wildlife.

But due to poor connectivity, lack of promotion as a tourist destination, and lately, the

erosion, its full tourism potential has been largely underexplored. Some areas that could

be focused on include:

Improved connectivity by boats, ferries, etc.

Medical facilities on the island

Smart toilets with bio-digester facilities (non-networked standalone) in strategic

locations across the island

Wildlife specialist tours of the major buildings (Local people can also conduct such

tours, since they may be knowledgeable about matters pertaining to the forest.)

Promotion of the island’s culture and local traditions including its tribal culture,

handlooms, boat-making craft, etc.

Designing of a systematic program to promote its cultural tourism

Tourist support services such as signage and interpretation centers, parking

facilities and easy access for differently abled persons

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 23


1.10 Great Rann of Kutch (Gujarat)

Background: The Great Rann of

Kutch is located in the Thar Desert

in Gujarat and is a seasonal salt

marsh. It lies to the north of the

Kutch District and is spread over

an area of around 7,500 sq. km. It

is the largest salt desert in the

world. The Rann of Kutch is one of

the most scenic spots on earth to

which a large variety of birds, such

as flamingos and larks, flock in the

migratory season. The time to visit it is in winter to experience the myriad fascinating

views due to the position of the sun during this period.

Main attraction: Apart from being the largest salt desert in the world, what makes Kutch

most interesting is the endless desert on one side and the sea on the other. During the

monsoon months, the sea covers a part of the area and then gradually recedes in winter to

leave a pristine white desert. The Rann of Kutch is the refuge for the last endangered

Asiatic wild asses and is also home to the largest breeding colonies of the greater and

lesser flamingos.

To enhance the tourist potential of the Rann of Kutch, the Government of Gujarat organizes

the Rann Utsav from December to March every year. This is a carnival where tourists can get

a flavor of the local culture through activities including musical and dance programs,

cultural shows, camel safaris, food festivals, etc. Since this is the best time to visit the

area, the carnival also offers desert camps and moonlit camel rides to tourists to enable

them to enjoy the beauty of the Rann.

Kutch is also a famous for its handicrafts because of the vibrant colors used by the

craftsmen in the region. Tourists can shop for handicraftssuch as garments, embroidered

paintings and wall hangings, traditional Gujaratijewelryand also enjoy the traditional food

and the relaxing environment.

Connectivity: Kutch is well connected by air, rail and road. It is 86 km from Bhuj airport

and is connected via the Dorodo desert to Bhuj. The nearest railway station is also in Bhuj.

It is around 400 km. from Ahmedabad and is well connected to the city through a road

network.

24 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Accommodation: Accommodation is in the form of budget to luxury hotels in the towns

around the Rann. Some hotels are located near the beach and are most preferred by

tourists. The Gujarat Tourism department also sets up tents during the Rann Utsav to

attract tourists.

Recommendations: The Rann of Kutch has unique features that are not found anywhere in

the world. There is high potential to develop ecotourism in the area. Some of the

important features that can be enhanced include:

Installation of bio-digester toilets and/or other non-networked toilets across the

Rann, especially in winter

Enhanced medical facilities

Special luxury cottages closer to the desert

Scheduling of annual camel races and making them well-advertised eventslike the

Boat Race Festival in Kerala

Adventure sports such as desert racing, water sports, etc. organized as an added

attraction

1.11 Sundarbans Delta (West Bengal)

Background: Sundarbans region in Bengal is

16

the largest single block of tidal halophytic

mangrove forest in the world. It is spread

over an area of approximately 10,000 sq. m. –

40% of which is India (rest is in Bangladesh).

It has been declared as a UNESCO World

Heritage Site. The Sundarbans delta is

formed by the super confluence of the

Ganges, Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna

rivers.

Main attraction: The region includes the

Sundarbans National Park which is a national

park, a tiger reserve and a biosphere

reserve.It is home to a myriad variety of

16

Halophyte - A halophyte is a plant that grows in waters of high salinity, coming into contact with saline water

through its roots or by salt spray, such as in saline semi-deserts, mangrove swamps, marshes and sloughs, and

seashores.

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 25


trees, reptiles and crocodiles. The delta can be navigated only through water ways and

there are a few river cruises which can be availed to explore the area.

The main attraction of the area is to view the wildlife, the forest and the small channels

and creeks of the rivers while being in a boat/cruise. Cruises are available for day trips,

some of which include a short walk through the mangrove forest and interaction with the

locals. Other attractions include Bhagatpur Crocodile Project - a crocodile breeding farm,

Sagar Island, Jambudweep, Sudhanyakali watchtower, Netidhopani Watchtower and

Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary.

Connectivity: As discussed above, the delta is accessible only through water transport. The

closest major city is Kolkata which has an international airport and has four inter-city

railway stations. The journey from Kolkata to the farthest land point takes 3-3.5 hours by

road. Tourists then board the cruise/boat from a particular location, depending on the tour

operator. These boats/cruises then take the tourists through the delta including watch

towers, walks, etc. based on the itinerary.

Accommodation: Accommodation is in the form of budget to luxury hotels in Kolkata.

Cruises also offer stay options for one to two nights, however these tend to range from

basic to semi-luxurious.

Recommendations: The Sundarbans region has a high potential to develop ecotourism due

to its natural attractions. Some of the important features that can be enhanced include:

Increasing the number of cruises/boats for the trips from Kolkata. The booking for

these should be available online.

Movie-shooting and screening in protected area, especially by researchers for

private screening (for extra charges)

Wildlife specialist tours for wildlife enthusiasts who want knowledgeable guides to

answer their queries (Local people can also conduct such tours, since they can be

knowledgeable about matters pertaining to the forest.)

Adventure sports, which would add to the reserve’s attractiveness, as well as

camping and bonfire arrangements (if possible)

1.12 Gurez/Gurais (Jammu and Kashmir)

Background: The Gurez or Gurais valley in northern Jammu & Kashmir is situated at about

8,000ft (2,400m) above sea level. Located on the Indo-Pak border, the Gurais region is

divided into three parts – only one of which lies in India and is part of the

26 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


Bandipore/Bandipora district. The central

township in the area is at Dawar. Due to heavy

snowfall, the valley remains cut-off from the

rest of the country for nearly six months

every year.

Main attraction: Gurez is famous for its

natural beauty, being located in a valley

surrounded by snowcapped mountains. The

Kishenganga river flows through the valley,

which adds to the picturesque beauty of the region. The most famous peak in the valley,

shaped like a pyramid, is the Habba Khatoon. The region is also known to the trekkers due

to its natural beauty.

Gurez also has historical significance and fell along a section of the ancient Silk Route that

connected the Kashmir Valley to Gilgit. The ruins of the ancient Sharada University can also

be found in the valley. Carved inscriptions in Kharoshthi, Brahmi and Tibetan have been

uncovered in the valley.

The residents of the valley belong to the Shina speaking tribe of Dards. The culture and

language of this tribe is different from that of the rest of the Kashmir and is closer to the

tribes in north Pakistan. This provides an opportunity for tourists to experience a unique

culture in the valley.

According to Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation officials, up until last

year, police permission was required to visit Gurez. The valley is now open for tourists and

the state government also plans to promote the destination in the future.

Connectivity: Gurez is located 86 km from Bandipore and 123 km from Srinagar. The

closest railway station and airport is at Srinagar. The road connecting Gurez to Bandipora

becomes non navigable during the winter months.

Accommodation: Since it is relatively unexplored and inaccessible for nearly half of the

year, no major hotels are present in the valley. The tourists usually travel from Srinagar or

Bandipore. Further, due to avalanches and lack of space, the existing houses are cramped

together offering no space for new buildings.

Recommendations: Gurez offers many opportunities to be developed for its tourism due to

its natural beauty, historical significance and cultural uniqueness. Some of the

suggestions include:

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 27


Improving road connectivity to the valley (the construction of a tunnel which is

operational throughout the year is being discussed)

Provision of basic accommodation facilities – at least during the peak tourist

season

Power is also a major issue in the region and needs to be addressed

Preparing packages for organized treks and promoting the destination as a

trekker’s paradise

Leveraging the unique local culture and language to attract tourists such as short

term language courses

Encourage movie shoots

28 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


2. Conclusion

2.


2. Conclusion

The locations we have showcased in brief are just a few of the unexplored and little known

tourism destinations in India. There are many religious sites, archeological monuments

and heritage sites that have immense potential to be developed by theGovernment

through promoting tourism. The Central Government has taken a step in this direction by

launching the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY).

Various state governments have also taken different steps and implemented policy

measures to promote tourism in their states.

Tourism policy:

One of the basic initiatives is to have a dedicated state tourism policy which

outlines how the states would like to project themselves. The policy also includes

focus areas of the government, specific interventions proposed/planned,

new/existing incentives to developers/private players and vision for development

of tourism in the state, among others.

Brand ambassadors:

Some states such as Gujarat (Amitabh Bachchan) and West Bengal (Shah Rukh

Khan) have involved leading Bollywood stars as brand ambassadors for the states,

to promote the tourist destinations in the states. Another initiative undertaken by

the Government of Diu was to project Diu as the ‘Isle of Calm’. The government had

engaged a large advertising agency – Ogilvy & Mather for designing and

conducting this campaign.

Social media:

To promote any destination as a tourist destination, it is important to provide

accurate information which is easily accessible through various media. Thus,

having a good website which includes information regarding tourist attractions,

connectivity, best time to travel, tourist facilities and accommodation becomes

imperative for promoting any destination. While some of these locations have

good websites such as Hampi, Diu and Great Rann of Kutch (Rann Utsav), many

30 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


locations do not have functional sites/have outdated sites. For instance,

Chitrakoot does not have a detailed website promoting itself as a tourist

destination.

Some other policy interventions and initiatives that can be taken for these destinations

include:

Organization of marquee events/festivals

A theme-based event such as a global race, trek or excursion can be organized at these

locations. For instance, a camel race on the lines of the Boat Race Festival can be held in

the Rann of Kutch as well as in the Deserts of Rajasthan. These should be global events

held over several days to attract tourists.

Development of theme-based activities

While natural beauty and heritage buildings attract tourists, what makes them stay for a

longer period are options of diverse activities. Therefore, based on the nature of each

location, sporting activities could be promoted. For instance, a good mix of water sports

could turn Diu (as also Goa) into a destination that is sought after by younger tourists.

Provision of basic tourist facilities

Some of these locations lack basic tourist facilities such as security, guided tours, clean

and accessible toilets and easy access for differently abled persons. This needs to be

addressed on a priority basis.

Preservation of heritage and nature

Some of these locations are also in urgent need of preservation. It is therefore important

that tourism is promoted in an ecologically sensitive manner and revenues from it are used

to preserve monuments or the ecology. For instance, preservation of the Elephanta Caves

in Maharashtra and the ruins in Hampi should be an ongoing process to ensure that they

remain as close to their original state as possible. Rapid erosion of Majuli Island in Assam

is a problem that can have consequences as dire as the entire island being wiped out.This

needs urgent attention.

Unexplored tourism destinations of India| 31


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32 | Unexplored tourism destinations of India


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New Delhi 110001

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